Earl Lectures 2010 - Melissa Wilcox

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Melissa Wilcox

Plenary Session III:  “A Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience”: Gender, Sexuality, and Religious Individualism.

Wednesday, January 27, 9:45am

It is an established truism that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people have been “burned” by traditional religion and therefore either are not religious or are gingerly approaching religion. Anecdotal data and several studies of LGBT-focused congregations support this claim. However, the line here is drawn quite tightly between “religious” and “not religious,” with little attention paid to those who are “spiritual but not religious.” This lecture will explore the roles of spirituality, religious individualism, and religious attendance in LGBT communities, focusing especially on the experiences of women.


Professor Wilcox's training is in sociology of religion, American religious history, gender studies/queer theory, and religious studies theory (especially the History of Religions school). She considers herself a sociologist of religion and a gender studies/queer studies scholar by trade. In general, her teaching and research interests center around the interactions of religion with gender and sexuality, and with a variety of forms of oppression and resistance. She is also interested in the cultural power of religious and quasi-religious narrative, especially as it affects internalized oppression and empowers resistance. Both of her earlier books - Coming Out in Christianity (Indiana University Press, 2003) and Sexuality and the World’s Religions (ed. with David W. Machacek; ABC-CLIO, 2003) - focus on these themes. Her newest book, entitled Queer Women and Religious Individualism (also from Indiana University Press), examines the roles that spirituality and religion have played in the lives of queer women in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. She is currently working on research on the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

See http://www.whitman.edu/content/religion/faculty/professor-melissa-wilcox for more information.

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